UN, Gov’t Agree To Joint Review of ECCC

The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s UN and Cambodian sides will begin a joint review of the court’s administration, submitting a report on the management of the court to a sel­ect group of financial donors by the end of next month, the UN and the government have announced.

In a joint statement issued Wed­nesday evening, both sides said that in two days of talks they had agreed to strengthen the measures taken at the court to prevent corruption and improve the court’s hiring and firing practices.

“Further, they agreed to set up joint sessions between the national and international related structures to ensure that the entire administration operates in a transparent, fair and efficient manner,” the two sides said in the statement.

“The parties agreed that these measures will meet the requirements of due process of law, including full protection against retaliation,” the statement continued, in an apparent reference to whistle-blower protections for persons complaining of irregularities at the court.

The statement, however, did not directly address the outcome of a recent independent UN review that reportedly recommended a full investigation of kickback allegations reported to UN officials by Cambodian court staff between June and August.

According to an official familiar with internal UN discussions, it was due to those kickback allegations that the visiting UN delegation had intended to ask the Cambodian government to review the current structure of senior management at the tribunal. Wednesday’s joint statement, however, made no reference to such discussions.

The government has asserted jurisdiction over investigations into the kickbacks allegations and in September expressed dismay that UN documentation associated with the review of corruption allegations had identified Cambodian court officials alleged to have been involved.

After the allegations were first publicized in 2007, the court em­barked on a series of human re­sources audits to help prevent the possibility of corrupt practices in the future. A review released in April this year said measures taken as a result were largely satisfactory.

At a press briefing at the Council of Ministers on Wednesday even­ing, Council adviser Pen Ngoeun said he could not provide specific de­tails on what had been agreed between both sides, such as who will comprise the new “joint sessions” or how they will operate within the court, which is itself al­ready jointly managed.

Pen Ngoeun did say that the joint sessions resulting from this week’s talks would allow officials on both sides of the court to address difficulties collectively.

“The two parties, that’s the Unit­ed Nations and Cambodia, agreed that the administrative sides…need to have a mechanism that can do the review, that can solve the problems, the administrative problems, within the entire administration of the court,” he said.

Concerning the kickback allegations, Pen Ngoeun said the Cam­bo­dian government would only ad­dress criminal matters according to the law, which the UN review had so far not done.

“We follow what we call due process of law,” Pen Ngoeun said.

“In due process of law, somebody who may commit a crime whatsoever has to be accused, brought to justice and then present the proof,” he said. “Anyone can make allegations,” he added.

A UN delegation press conference scheduled for Wednesday evening was canceled in the middle of the night Tuesday.

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